Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are both known to bring smiles and bouts of joy to their audiences. Mister Rogers did so with his groundbreaking children’s television show that aired from the late ‘60s to 2001. Hanks has done so with his numerous acting roles in movies such as Toy Story, Big, Cast Away and Forrest Gump. Their legacies now converge with the release of A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood, where Hanks portrays Rogers. But apparently they have even more in common than one might expect.
It turns out Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins! The two entertainers share the same great-grandfather five times removed, Johannes Meffert, who immigrated from Germany to America back in the 18th century. Hanks' relation to Mister Rogers stems from his father’s side, named Amos Mefford Hanks, whereas the children television icon’s mother’s side connects to the famed Oscar-winner. Check out the Ancestry.com findings below:
At the New York premiere of the Fred Rogers biopic Sunday night, Access broke the news to Tom Hanks and his wife, much to the couple’s surprise. Rita Wilson and Hanks were stunned at the provided family tree connecting Hanks' “Mefford” ancestors to Fred Rogers ahead of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’s release! No wonder the actor shares an uncanny resemblance to the cardigan-wearing icon! (A recent Jeopardy panel couldn’t even recognize his likeness as Rogers!)
In the new movie, Tom Hanks portrays Fred Rogers during the '90s while he is working on his television show day-in and day-out. The story follows a journalist named Lloyd Vogel, played by The Americans’ Matthew Rhys, and loosely based on Esquire writer Tom Junod. Vogel begrudgingly accepts an assignment to profile Mr. Rogers for a piece, but ends up befriending and learning important lessons from the famed TV show host.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews from critics, especially praising Tom Hanks’ performance as Fred Rogers. The movie currently holds at a 96% “Fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes with over 100 reviews filed. Hanks is receiving early Oscar buzz for his role, which would be his sixth nomination and third win if he nabs the prize.
Along with being a distant relative to Fred Rogers, Tom Hanks also received a blessing from his widow Joanne Rogers, who said he “looks adorable” as her late husband. She also said Rogers was a fan of the actor, so it’s not tough to see his approval of Hanks if he were still alive.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood follows the highly-praised documentary on Mister Rogers' legacy, Won’t You Be My Neighbor last year. The biopic is directed by Can You Ever Forgive Me’s Marielle Heller and additionally stars Chris Cooper and Susan Kelechi Watson. It comes to theaters this Friday, November 22, along with Disney’s Frozen II.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.